The 35th edition of the annual Gandhi Walk, a cherished event in the predominantly Indian suburb of Lenasia in Johannesburg, finally returned after being postponed for three long years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event witnessed the enthusiastic participation of over two thousand people who embraced the new format—a delightful six-kilometre walk, accompanied by an array of entertainment. This year’s walk was a departure from the traditional format, emphasizing enjoyment over competition.
A Pandemic Postponement
In 2020, barely a month before the scheduled event, as the pandemic began its relentless global spread, the Gandhi Walk Committee made a tough but wise decision to postpone the event indefinitely. This choice was made despite the Committee having already incurred significant costs in planning for an expected 4,000 registered walkers. The traditional format had catered to various fitness levels and interests, offering two distances—15km for serious athletes and 5km for families, senior citizens, and parents pushing prams.
A Shift Towards Joyful Walking
This year’s Gandhi Walk embraced a more casual six-kilometre format that prioritized the enjoyment of the participants over the competitive aspect. The change in format was well-received and allowed people to reconnect with the event in a new light, fostering a sense of togetherness that was much needed after the pandemic-induced isolation.
A Tradition Continued: Harivardan Pitamber
A noteworthy presence at this year’s walk was Harivardan Pitamber, a striking look-alike of Mahatma Gandhi. Pitamber has been an integral part of the Gandhi Walk for many years, and his presence once again drew much attention. Participants eagerly clamored for selfies with him. Pitamber’s involvement adds an authentic touch and a deep connection to Mahatma Gandhi himself, enhancing the experience for all participants.
Resilience and Unity
The resumption of community-based events like the Gandhi Walk serves as a testament to the resilience and unity of communities in the face of adversity. These occasions not only provide an opportunity for people to come together but also serve as a reminder of their shared heritage, values, and commitment to social cohesion.
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